Student Jeremy Downum: Building Businesses from the Ground Up
By University of Arkansas Grantham November 27, 2017
Jeremy Downum has always gone for what he wanted, even if it wasn’t the traditional path. Not ready for college after high school, eventually finishing his degree became something he needed to do for himself and his family. The flexibility of an online degree program and UA Grantham’s mission to serve those who serve were a perfect fit for him.
When Jeremy graduated high school, he went directly to college, only to find it wasn’t for him. So he focused on a career.
For years, Jeremy has worked to be successful in the oil and gas rights business. However, like every business there are ups and downs, and with each down swing he considered returning for his degree. In 2011, he and his future wife Cheri opened a salon business and married a year later. Between work, family and the salon, Jeremy’s life was hectic. But the need to finish his degree was a gap he decided to close.
“I have the passion for business and especially entrepreneurship. It is part of my mindset.” Jeremy explained. “When I was looking for an online degree completion program I chose UA Grantham because it had a reputation for caring about people and helping others. I liked that.”
“I grew up in a normal family – not rich or poor – but I wanted more,” Jeremy said, noting that he always wanted the financial security of a successful career. “When my daughter was born it changed everything. She is my biggest accomplishment. Everything I do is for my daughter, Murphy, and my wife Cheri. Even though my daughter is too young to understand, I tell them both that I [go to college] to make our lives better.”
Jeremy began his bachelor’s degree in business management in 2015. After the birth of Murphy in 2016, his motivation to complete his degree increased even though his schedule was busier than ever. While it wasn’t easy to commit to his studies, he continues to make that commitment each day. In August 2017, he started his own gas and oil rights business. Yet his dedication to earning his UA Grantham degree hasn’t changed and he plans to graduate in 2018.
He said it’s all about focus and timing, with his days starting at 5 a.m. and often going until 9 p.m. Pursuing his degree online has helped him achieve that goal. “I need to be able to set my own pace and work my classes into my schedule. UA Grantham allows me to do that,” he said.
Financial security, Jeremy explained, has taken on a new meaning now that he has a child. “I want her to be able to have more opportunities than I did,” he said.
While Jeremy has two more courses to complete his degree, he has already found benefits from what he’s learned in the School of Business, especially when it comes to the finance, accounting and entrepreneurship courses.
“The best part of my UA Grantham experience is being able apply what I learned in class to real life experiences. With my work and businesses I could apply what I learned immediately,” he said.
Jeremy found ways to put his new business skills to use in his salon, and had considered also starting his own gas and oil rights company, but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. When he began the Entrepreneurship course with Professor Mark Glenn, he finally realized how he could start his business.
He was reviewing a case study about someone who worked for a company before breaking away to start his own business in the same industry. The case questions on business law, opportunity and all the other regulations made him think through his dream. While still in the middle of the course, he began his new business venture.
“The class helped me pull my thoughts together and [understand this was] a good idea. The classes have [also] helped me with the technical skills of running a business … helping me create and grow businesses,” he said. “Success is not easy. You have to put in 110% effort. Stay focused on now and you can accomplish anything.”
Jeremy keeps his eye on the end goal and encourages others to do the same thing. “If you think you want a degree then you should do it because you only live once. Go for it because it is well worth it. There are always ways to afford [college through] scholarships or aid, so just do it!”